Forensic Anthropologist Ryburn Dobbs Has Written a Captivating New Police Procedural Series

Ryburn Dobbs spent ten years as a forensic anthropologist, working dozens of death investigations. He also worked as an investigative analyst specializing in homicides and unsolved cases. His work as a forensic anthropologist inspired him to write The Sebastien Grey Novels. The Comfort of Distance is the first book in the series.

The Comfort of Distance (The Sebastien Grey Novels Book 1) by Ryburn Dobbs

Deep in the forests of the Black Hills, human remains are being discovered – one bit at a time. Rumors of a rogue man-eating mountain lion are spreading through the county and panic is starting to swell. Sgt. Hank LeGris of the Custer County Sheriff’s Office is feeling the pressure; he needs to find out who the dead are, and how they got that way. Hank suspects that the bodies are the result of a more sinister predator. But in order to solve the mystery, he will have to reach back into his own dysfunctional family history and pull in the only person who can get to the bottom of these strange cases – his estranged and disordered brother, the brilliant forensic anthropologist Dr. Sebastien Grey.

When Sebastien arrives in the Black Hills, he takes his brother, and Detective Tiffany Reese, on a whirlwind tour of forensic thinking and deductive reasoning, not only solving the mystery of the human remains, but the murder of a local thug as well. In the process, Sebastien himself is forever transformed by his own success and by the charm and kindness of the lovely Detective Reese: “One day I hope you give yourself permission to be different, Sebastien. You’ll be happier.”

The Comfort of Distance is equal parts forensic mystery, police procedure and character study, with dashes of comedy and romance thrown in. Readers will be cheering at the end and ready for more. 

The Boxwood Torso (The Sebastien Grey Novels Book 2) was released in July 2021.

A skull in one place, a torso in another. Are they connected? Thirty years ago, the authorities didn’t think so. But the ingenious forensic anthropologist Dr. Sebastien Grey is now on the case, and he believes they both belong to the same victim – an unidentified man who was shot, dismembered, scattered in two states and burned. But time is not the only thing standing in the way of the truth. A pair of professional rivals, a spy inside the sheriff’s office and a local family with a dark secret are all obstacles to untying this murderous knot.

This second book in the Sebastien Grey series finds Dr. Grey once again in the Black Hills of South Dakota and teamed up with Tiffany Reese – a shrewd and tough detective who doubles as the love of his life and the only woman who can coax him out of his awkward social isolation. Will their relationship survive the pressure of high stakes cold case work?

About the Author:

Ryburn Dobbs taught biological anthropology and forensic anthropology at several colleges throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and spent ten years as a forensic anthropologist, working dozens of death investigations. In addition to his anthropological pursuits, Ryburn also worked as an investigative analyst specializing in homicides and unsolved cases.

His work as a forensic anthropologist inspired him to write The Sebastien Grey Novels. The first book in the series, The Comfort of Distance, was released in September 2020, followed by The Boxwood Torso (The Sebastien Grey Novels Book 2) in July 2021. Where the Blood is Made (The Sebastien Grey Novels Book 3) will be released in Spring 2022.

Readers can connect with Ryburn Dobbs on Instagram, Facebook, and Goodreads.

To learn more, go to: https://ryburndobbs.com

 

A GRITTY, NEW CRIME DRAMA STARRING DEAN NORRIS

We are excited to announce that the Pigeon-Blood Red Trilogy by Ed Duncan has been turned into a podcast! Mahalo With A Bullet is a four episode crime drama starring BREAKING BAD’s Dean Norris.

Podcast Description:

In 2018, the FBI ran a sprawling surveillance operation into suspected contract killer Richard  Sanders and his employer Frank Litvak’s extensive criminal operation. When Rico was dispatched to Hawaii to kill a fence who had stolen an invaluable piece of jewelry from Litvak, everything that could go wrong, did. These are the FBI surveillance tapes.

You can listen to the podcast on iTunes or Spotify.

 

Mahalo with a Bullet is based on the Pigeon-Blood Red series by Ed Duncan.

Pigeon-Blood Red tells the story of underworld enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders, who believed his next assignment to be an ordinary job. Retrieve his gangster boss’s priceless pigeon-blood red ruby necklace and teach the double-dealing cheat who stole it a lesson. A job like a hundred before it. But the chase quickly goes sideways and takes Rico from the mean streets of Chicago to sunny Honolulu, where the hardened hit man finds himself in uncharted territory when a couple of innocent bystanders are accidentally embroiled in the crime.

As Rico pursues his new targets, the hunter and his prey develop an unlikely respect for one another and Rico is faced with a momentous decision: follow his orders to kill the couple whose courage and character have won his admiration, or refuse and endanger the life of the woman he loves?

About the Author: 

Ed Duncan lives outside of Cleveland, OH. He is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years.

Ed Duncan is the author of the Pigeon-Blood Red trilogy. The first book in the series Pigeon Blood Red was released in September 2016, followed by The Last Straw, the second book in the series, released in December 2017. The third book in the series Rico Stays was released in May 2020, published by Next Chapter. Each book in the series can be read as a standalone.

“It’s always been said that you should write what you know. I am a lawyer – as is a pivotal character in the novel who is being pursued by a hit man – and I’m excited to be able to use my legal training creatively as well as professionally,” says Duncan.

Praise for the Pigeon Blood Red Trilogy:

“Readers in search of a tight, well-written…crime/action/adventure will find…an engrossing story that will keep them involved to the end. And like me, they will find themselves eagerly awaiting the next installment.” – Mike Siedschlag’s Review

“This charming, classically-told crime thriller is a must for noir fans.” – 5 Stars, Best Thrillers

“This Chicago set thriller is a pacy read, written with an edge and style… Ed Duncan’s series will sweep up fans as it goes along.” – Crime Thriller Hound

“With danger looming in every chapter… Duncan skillfully draws the reader into a complex web of characters… A few key twists within the storyline keep the reader intrigued… an outstanding crime thriller…”– 5 Stars, Red City Review

“…suspense from start to finish… a fast-paced read… Entertaining, Gritty and Nailbiting.” – The Bibliovert

“…It rips along like a .45 bullet rushing past your head….a crime novel in a style you don’t … see too often… a juggernaut of a story that just won’t quit.” – Monkey’s Book Review

“A fast-paced read with complex and morally ambiguous characters that leaves you on the edge of your seat!”– AllieReads.com

Readers can connect with Ed Duncan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads. To learn more, go to http://eduncan.net/

Kathryn Schleich Announces the Release of Her Debut Crime Novel ‘Salvation Station’

Salvation Station, by Kathryn Schleich, was released in April 2020 published by She Writes Press.

“Salvation Station is your next must-read mystery. Kathryn Schleich perfectly blends together a taut tale of murder in the church. A devilishly good tale.” —CARA LOCKWOOD, USA Today best-selling author of I Do (But I Don’t)

“Salvation Station is an edge-of-your-seat, page-turning thriller that might possibly leave you unable to sleep. This book is what we need in the world right now—a killer we can hate and a model cop we can get behind, showing us that women are as fierce as men and then some.” —MARGO DILL, Managing Editor, WOW! Women On Writing

Synopsis:

When committed female police captain Linda Turner, haunted by the murders of two small children and their pastor father, becomes obsessed with solving the harrowing case, she finds herself wrapped up in a mission to expose a fraudulent religious organization and an unrepentant killer.

Despite her years of experience investigating homicides for the force, Captain Linda Turner is haunted by the murders of the Hansen family. The two small children, clothed in tattered Disney pajamas, were buried with their father, a pastor, in the flower garden behind a church parsonage in Lincoln, Nebraska. But Mrs. Hansen is nowhere to be found—and neither is the killer.

In St. Louis, the televangelist Ray Williams is about to lose his show—until one of his regular attendees approaches him with an idea that will help him save it. Despite his initial misgivings, Ray agrees to give it a try. He can’t deny his attraction to this woman, and besides, she’d assured him the plan is just—God gave her the instructions in a dream.

Multiple story lines entwine throughout this compelling mystery, delving into the topics of murder, religious faith, and the inherent dangers in blindly accepting faith as truth. While Reverend Williams is swept up in his newfound success and plans for his wedding, Captain Turner can only hope that she and her team will catch the Hansens’ cunning killer—before more bodies surface.


Excerpt:

Two of them were just babies. Captain Linda Turner had been a homicide detective for over ten years, but this crime scene was still a shock. Half a dozen murders are considered a bad year, she mused, striding toward the scene. Three bodies accidentally discovered through an innocent act: an inquisitive dog burrowing deep into the flower garden behind its new home and bringing its master a gruesome prize.

“Morning, Steve,” she said. The cop guarding the area raised the yellow plastic Police Line—Do Not Cross crime tape as she folded her body and slipped under. “I understand the owner’s dog found the bodies.”

“Good morning, Captain. Yes, ma’am, he recently moved to town, the pastor of University Disciples of Christ Church,” Steve offered.

“He made the 911 call.”

“What a welcome.”

This was all the information Captain Turner had on this breezy May morning. The smell of freshly turned soil and blooming flowers combined with a stench she knew all too well. Behind the neat limestone house, the flower garden was cordoned off, and evidence flags and numbered photo markers dotted the soil with yellow. A crime scene photographer had finished documenting the shock- ing scene, and the coroner was directing forensic experts gingerly extracting human remains from beneath the black earth. The bodies were wrapped individually in blankets, fragile from decomposition. The badly deteriorated remains were gently uncovered, revealing two young children dressed in tattered Disney pajamas. One body clad in pink Disney princesses and the other in Mickey Mouse gave Linda pause. The little girl and boy lay on blue plastic tarps spread over the grass, human jigsaw puzzles waiting to be solved. Linda couldn’t look any longer and turned away, her free hand covering her mouth, breathing through her nose to keep from gagging.

It had happened before, but the horror of murdered innocent children always had the same effect: Linda couldn’t stop until the depraved killer was found and convicted. She didn’t have any children of her own because she had invested 110 percent into her police career, but she was a favorite aunt. Linda envisioned the sweet faces of her nieces and nephews, all under the age of ten.

The back door swung shut with a loud bang, snapping Linda into the here and now. A familiar figure strode toward her. Tall and lean, Lieutenant Lyle Dale was a twenty-year veteran of the force. Dressed in a tailored dark suit and cowboy boots—always cowboy boots—he cut a striking figure. Linda met him halfway across the lush lawn.

“Morning, Lieutenant. Bring me up to speed,” she said gesturing toward the vigilant CSI team.

Lyle spoke matter-of-factly. “One adult male and two small children. CSIs are still looking for a fourth body, but no luck so far.”

“I assume that would be the mother?” Linda asked, watching the hive of activity.

“That’s our best guess. The children make this crime especially heinous.”

“Yes, they do,” Linda acknowledged sadly. She strolled back toward the partially excavated garden, shading her eyes from the rising spring sun. “Walk me through the discovery.”

Lt. Dale cleared his throat. “If it weren’t for the Reverend Martin’s very large and curious dog, Kris Kringle, the bodies might have gone undetected. According to the reverend, Kris is always dragging home road kill or what have you. This morning, Kris took to digging in the flower garden and brought his master a human leg.” Lyle turned toward the house. “Rev. Martin followed his dog out here,” he added, tracing the pastor’s path in one motion ending at the garden, “where he discovered additional human remains. At which point, he called 911.”

A strand had come loose from the ponytail securing her blonde hair, and Linda casually brushed it aside. “Any idea yet who they might be?”

“That’s where it gets intriguing,” Lyle replied. “Rev. Martin moved into the parsonage about eight weeks ago, replacing the former pastor named Gregory Hansen, who’d left to pursue missionary work in Africa. Rev. Hansen was married and had two young children. After the Hansen family moved, the national missionary office for the Disciples of Christ contacted the church concerned that the Hansens had never arrived.”

Linda glanced toward the corpses and the growing mounds of dirt from the excavated garden. “Three bodies. What are the chances that the Hansen family never left town?”

Lyle nodded, his face grim. “That’s my thought—that these are Rev. Hansen and his children. But we’ll need autopsies to confirm that.”

The sour feeling in Linda’s stomach made her think Lyle was right, but she had another question. “Did the church contact us or file a missing person’s report?”

“The church secretary confirmed a missing person’s report was filed when the national Disciples office called to say the Hansens weren’t in Cleveland,” Lyle answered, following her gaze.

Linda kept focusing on those tiny pajama-clad bodies. “Start interviewing persons of interest—”

“I’ve already got staff ready for interviews,” Lyle interrupted. “Rev. Martin is very willing to cooperate and has agreed to let police search the house and take prints. Then there’s the church secretary, Darlene Jordan, who specifically asked to speak with the person in charge.”

Linda removed a small pad of paper and pen from her jacket pocket, scribbling notes. “I’ll talk with the church secretary. Once we’ve secured the house, you and Amy start canvassing neighbors and church members.”

“Right. One other thing: both Amy and I detected the odor of bleach throughout the house, as though someone was cleaning up after themselves.”

“Captain Turner? Ma’am, there’s a reporter from the Journal Star asking to speak with you.” It was Steve, the strapping, young, uni- formed officer assigned to keep bystanders away from the scene.

“I need to give the press a preliminary statement,” Linda acknowledged. “We haven’t seen a case involving the murder of children in quite a while, so it’ll merit extra attention. I’ll see you back at the station.” Linda strode toward the quickly forming gaggle of reporters with Steve at her heels.

Cases like this were one reason Linda Turner loved her job. Her dedication and tenaciousness had assured her promotion as the youngest person to attain the rank of captain in the LPD. Sifting through the clues of a tangled mystery, discovering which pieces fit and which led to a dead end, then assembling that evidence into a case to catch the perpetrators and bring them to justice were what had made law enforcement so enticing.

But there was an unhappy downside to her meteoric rise. No longer was there anyone to come home to and share a lifetime with.

To preserve her sanity, Linda made the choice to delve deep into her career, personal needs be damned. This case was already tugging at her emotions. Those children’s bodies haunted her. Who would savagely murder their own flesh and blood and bury the evidence in a flower garden? Why? And most troubling, where was the mother? Linda made a silent vow to find out. No matter what.


About the Author:

Kathryn Schleich has been a writer for thirty years. Her most recent publications include the short story “Reckless Acts,” featured in After Effects: A Zimbell House Anthology, and her story “Grand Slam,” published in The Acentos Review in May 2017. She is the author of two editions of the book Hollywood and Catholic Women: Virgins, Whores, Mothers, and Other Images, which evolved from her master’s thesis. Her guest posts have been featured on the Women On Writing blog, The Muffin, and she writes for the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation’s volunteer newsletter. When she’s not writing, Schleich is likely volunteering in the education and arts communities in the Twin Cities, where she lives. Friends, family, good food, wine, and traveling are important aspects of her life. Salvation Station is her first novel.

Readers can connect with Kathryn on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Goodreads. To learn more, go to https://www.kathrynschleich.com/

Parenting Through the Eyes of Lollipops

Do you wish that you could enjoy parenthood more? Have you ever wondered what deeper meaning there is to being a Mom or Dad?
In Parenting Through the Eyes of Lollipops Jacqueline Pirtle, a mom herself, carries you through the experience of parenthood by making spiritual and energetic sense of real physical-life parenting scenarios—while, as her highest priority, keeping children’s perspectives in mind.
This book opens new doors for you to dive into parenthood with fresh zest, plenty of fun, and infinite love for yourself and for your children by teaching you these 3 important pillars to better parenting:
-The Harmonious Dance
-It Is Never The Child
-The Love Cycle of Parenthood
This profound parent-life wisdom can be utilized immediately, so you too can experience a spectacular time with your children, including teenagers, ASAP.
No matter if you are a parent, grandparent, aunt and uncle, or just a lover of life, Parenting Through the Eyes of Lollipops will inspire you to dig deeper into the enjoyment of being alive and being a Mother or Father.
Get ready, this book will leave you with a sweet tooth that is endlessly craving well-feeling parenting and life moments every day!

Excerpt:
An important first step for a parent is to relax and know that you really are wonderful just by being here and by being present— ready for your new life as a parent or ready to shift into a new way as a parent. You ARE magnificent!
I invite you to say, think, and feel the following words often:
“I AM a phenomenally powerful parent with a deep inner guidance and an infinite capability to love!”
Really breathe into these words, and feel your shift to being and living in a frequency of peaceful-ness, openness, pure-ness, right-ness, and good-ness—your heart space and your soul being.
Acknowledge that you are NOT here to impress anyone, anything, or life itself––especially not your children. You are here to simply BE; nothing else. Feel the release of all resistance and the pressure-free space that you create for yourself by acknowledging this.
So what does to BE or not to BE really mean?
Do you think to BE means you have to have hard times and BE miserable? I surely hope not, because to BE clearly means to feel well, to be happy, to enjoy, and to feel excited about your existence and expansion. Just think about how well you feel by reading the first few paragraphs about your magnificence, and how wonderful it feels to acknowledge that all you have to do is BE your soul being which is pure positive energy.
Now shift your focus to your children. Let them – born or unborn – know that they too are wonderful and magnificent just as they ARE. Fill them in, that coming into this physical life means they are here to BE themselves—nothing else. Let your child know of this magic and well-feeling through loving and uplifting words, thoughts – every thought is energy that is shared – actions, happenings, and, for older children, through explanation and education.
Make well-feeling a priority for you because it spreads to your children, filling every single cell of their whole being – body, mind, soul, consciousness – with goodness, and it returns that high-for-life energy to you like a boomerang.
Think about the incredible power that is used to lift a sinking ship to be afloat again—you feeling wonderful is that power that can lift any child to be emotionally afloat again.
Feeling wonderful IS powerful!

About the Author:
Jacqueline Pirtle is a holistic practitioner, a healing arts teacher and mentor, and the bestselling author of 365 Days of Happiness.
Her passion for mindful happiness shines through in all of her work and life – helping parents to parent harmoniously and clients to shift into a “high-for-life” frequency.
Jacqueline has been featured in Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, BuzzFeed, Elephant Journal, Bustle, NBC News-Better and has appeared on Women Inspired TV, The Sunday School Radio Show, WoMRadio, and more. Her article “Are You Happy?” is in print in The Edge Magazine.
Jacqueline was born in Switzerland and has lived all over the world. She now makes her home in the United States with her wonderful husband, amazing kids, and sweet cats, and can often be found having a little chat with a falling leaf, or indulging in a cupcake at her favorite bakery.
Her professional background is in holistic wellness and natural living. She holds various international wellness degrees, and is an international certified Reiki Master.
Her latest book Parenting Through the Eyes of Lollipops was released in September 2019 and is available for sale on Amazon. Readers can connect with Jacqueline on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads. To learn more, go to http://www.freakyhealer.com

Eating for Pregnancy: Your Essential Month-by-Month Nutrition Guide and Cookbook

The 3rd edition of ‘Eating for Pregnancy: Your Essential Month-by-Month Nutrition Guide and Cookbook’ by Catherine Jones (Author), Rose Ann Hudson (Author), and Teresa Knight (Contributor) was released in July 2019, published by Hachette Book Group (Da Capo Lifelong Books).

Written by specialists in perinatal nutrition, OB/GYN, and high-risk pregnancies, EATING FOR PREGNANCY is the ultimate no-nonsense nutrition guide and cookbook for moms-to-be.

Every pregnant woman understands that what she eats and drinks affects the baby growing within her, but many don’t have the time or energy to ensure they’re always eating right. EATING FOR PREGNANCY walks readers through pregnancy month-by-month to cover developmental highlights, body changes, and nutritional needs of the mother and baby. Each chapter shares delicious, healthful recipes that put a special emphasis on the nutrients that mother and baby need that month, during preconception, the nine months of pregnancy, and the postpartum period. Each of the 150 recipes highlights optimal nutrients for mom and her growing baby, and provides handy nutritional breakdowns and complete meal ideas.

This new edition has been completely revised and updated with:

–  25 brand-new recipes and updated classics, with more quick and easy dishes, more vegan and vegetarian recipes and variations, and more gluten-free and dairy-free options

–  The most up-to-date research-based information on daily intakes, supplements, nutrient sources, environmental concerns, common annoyances, exercise, and high-risk pregnancies

–  Guidance for mothers with diabetes or gestational diabetes, including low-carb meal plans, recipe variations, and weekly menus.

Additionally, EATING FOR PREGNANCY is the only pregnancy nutrition-cookbook with substantive advice and recipes for women with diabetes. Gestational diabetes is one of the most common complications of pregnancy with rates increasing every year. It is the only high-risk condition that requires a special meal plan and lifestyle. EATING FOR PREGNANCY caters to moms who develop diabetes during pregnancy and those who enter pregnancy with preexisting diabetes. It also covers the fourth trimester offering moms supportive advice with postpartum depression, breastfeeding and weight loss.

“The perfect nutritional guide to pregnancy. Nothing is left out. You’ll know exactly what to eat every month and how to cook it!” ~Sheri L. Hammersley, MD, FACOG, Board Certified Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Maternal-Fetal Medicine Associates of Maryland

“While the work’s tone is authoritative, it is also caring and informal, like a warm conversation with a knowledgeable friend. A comprehensive manual for healthy eating that could become a pregnant woman’s most helpful resource.” -Kirkus Reviews

“a completely revised and updated book that includes everything you will need (and more) to know before, during, and after the birth of your child. There is a bounty of information for women in all of the stages of the pregnancy process… this is the ultimate pregnancy book.” – San Francisco Book Review


About the Authors:

Catherine Jones is an award-winning author of four nutrition-cookbooks. She is celebrating the release of the third edition of Eating for Pregnancy: Your Essential Month-by-Month Nutrition Guide and Cookbook (Hachette Book Group, 2019). Eating for Pregnancy has been a bestselling book for 16 years and the winner of the coveted Mom’s Gold Choice Award. 

Rose Ann Hudson, RD, LD, is a perinatal nutritionist and registered dietitian. She counsels both high-risk patients and those with healthy pregnancies. 

The late Teresa Knight, MD, was a board-certified OB/GYN and the CEO of Women’s Health Specialists Wellness Center in Saint Louis, Missouri. Dr. Knight passed away in 2018, just before the book was published.


Eating for Pregnancy is available for sale on Amazon. Readers can connect with the authors on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads. To learn more, go to http://www.catherinejonescookbooks.com/

For further information, to request a review copy, or to schedule an interview with the authors, please contact Kelsey Butts at Book Publicity Services at (805) 807-9027 or Kelsey@BookPublicityServices.com

Who’s Got Your Back: Making and Keeping Great Friendships Among Men

Crosslink Publishing announced today the upcoming publication of a new Men’s Christian Lifestyle book for September 2019, Who’s Got Your Back? Making and Keeping Great Friendships Among Men by David W. Smith.
“David Smith has written a very enjoyable and practical book, Who’s Got your Back? that is full of memorable stories about what’s needed in this day and age to form genuine friendships.”—Darrel Billups, Th.D., emeritus executive director, National Coalition Ministries to Men (NCMM)

Synopsis:
When asked ‘Who’s got your back?’ most men will simply answer, “no one.”
“Men don’t have friends in the same sense that women do. But it doesn’t have to be that way,” says Author David W. Smith.
Who’s Got Your Back? will motivate men to build satisfying relationships which will be there during the ups and downs of life.
“David shows us how we can be strong, task-oriented, and achieving but also warm-hearted and unmistakably relationship-driven in the rough and tumble of everyday life.” —David Riemenschneider, Th.D., founder and lead pastor, Bloomingdale Church, Bloomingdale, Illinois
“This good book brings into sharp focus a genuine and functional and real-life definition of manliness. Dr David Smith has skillfully woven stories with practical application strategies for building more satisfying friendships.” —Gary Smit, Ed.D., dean of faculty, Josephson Institute of Ethics
Who’s Got Your Back? provides a clarion call for men to be the kind of men modeled for us by Jesus.

Excerpt from Who’s Got Your Back:
Introduction
One of the greatest indicators of our emotional and spiritual health is how well we’re connected with others. Who has your back? Who can count on you? We fall short, rarely because of a lack of some knowledge or ability. We often fail in our personal and work experiences because of our inability to connect well with others. No one plans to lead a mediocre life; it just happens. We’re more likely to form alliances than we are friendships. We don’t seem to mean much to each other anymore. It doesn’t have to be that way.
This book is about a real-life positive and practical journey to form enjoyable and genuine and spiritual relationships in every area of life. It’s no surprise that those who have your back will usually be the same individuals who know they can count on you in the good times and in times of trouble. It may seem counterintuitive, but giving to others is often more satisfying than receiving from others.
It’s the individuals we’re close to who make life worth living.
I’m curious about and committed to learning more about friendships. I wonder about questions like these: What kind of friends do you have? Are they work friends, sports friends, or neighborhood friends? How about friendships at church? Recent Pew Research reveals that only about one in five men attends religious services weekly. Whom would you turn to if your whole world caved in? Whom would you trust enough to share your intimate thoughts, fears, and frustrations? Who in your life would drop everything to help you during a difficult time?
How many friends do people have? What’s your definition of friendship? Does the Bible offer practical advice for creating friendships? How do friends think and behave? Why do women typically have more friends than men? Why are friendships with the opposite sex so rare? How does age and marital status affect friendships? Why do some friendships fall apart? What’s involved in making and keeping satisfying and worthwhile relationships?
To learn more about close friendships, I read as many of the secular and faith-based publications I could find. This was useful, but what was also very helpful for real life was when I conducted my own interviews, usually with strangers. While I interviewed friends and neighbors and guys at work, most of the slightly more than four hundred conversations I had were with strangers who were willing to talk with me in a neutral setting, often at a shopping center. Strangers were usually very honest, I found. They had no image or reputation to protect since they’d likely never see me again. What they told me was often surprising and I believe important. I continue to ask the opinions of others at conferences and retreats when I’m invited to give presentations. I’ve shared much in the following chapters from what I learned from many candid conversations and from my own life experiences. I’m therefore less formal; I’ve decided to make this book more like a conversation with less attention devoted to a formal bibliography and cited notes.

About the Author:
David is a former public -school superintendent and high school and college teacher and is now a conference speaker for business and faith based events. He earned an interdisciplinary social studies and social policy PhD from Northwestern University. David and his wife, Sue Ann, live in suburban Chicago. Readers can connect with David on Twitter and Goodreads. To learn more, go to http://formingconnections.com/

Love Lock: Creating Lasting Connections With the One You Love

Love Lock: Creating Lasting Connections With the One You Love by Rich Rollins and Marty Trammell is a new Christian / Marriage & Relationships book. It was released in June 2019, published by Crosslink Publishing.

Synopsis:
In our socially networked but disconnected age, we find ourselves longing for deeper, more intimate connection.
Love Lock, Creating Lasting Connections with the One You Love is the perfect read for couples who want to have the closeness back.
We were created for connection, yet many marriages are coming apart as couples “unfriend” each other long before the feelings fade.
Love Lock couples are looking for ways to connect beyond what they allow people to see on social media. They care about friendship over filters, love over “likes.”
With Love Lock, reading the relatable stories and using the easy and engaging exercises, couples can discover or rediscover the intimate connection God intended.

“Rich Rollins and Marty Trammell have done it again! Writing in the same practical and thoroughly biblical style of Redeeming Relationships, they offer a roadmap for young couples just falling in love, hope for couples experiencing fractured relationships, and confidence for couples like Debbie and me (coming up on our 44th anniversary) who are in the latter portion of their married life. Couples who answer the questions together and engage in the activities at the end of each chapter are sure to find immediate benefits.” William J. Katip, Ph.D. President Grace College and Seminary
“. . . . among other things, Drs. Rich Rollins and Marty Trammell have managed to tackle the often terminal role that personal expectations play regarding spousal and marital ideals. And by reminding us to neither “major on the minors,” nor “minor on the majors,” they have encouraged that sacrifice in a Christ-centered marriage is never out of fashion. Finally, the Love Lock exercises at each chapter’s conclusion provide practical opportunities to reinforce learning in promoting weight-bearing tracks to run on. This is definitely a worthwhile resource!” Keith M. Douds, Psy.D. Licensed Psychologist Clinic Director

Excerpt from Love Lock:
Listening Your Way to Love
Research has shown that 90 percent of our struggles in marriage would be resolved if we did nothing more than see that problem from our partner’s perspective.—Les and Leslie Parrot
Ask any group of people—friends, coworkers—“When do you feel loved?” and the answer will likely include something about listening. When people listen, we feel worthwhile—we feel valued. Listening is hard when trying to start a love relationship, because we’d rather try to impress. Yet listening is one of the strongest ways to say, “I love you.”
Jesus’s example in this startles us. Why the God-man with all the answers would wait to hear our questions is provocative. But that’s just what Jesus did with the woman at the well. Though He knows immediately the answer to her need, He asks a question, listens, and waits for her response (see John 4). Why? Perhaps it is because, in knowing all things, He understands that His listening heart will be partly responsible for her healing.
A popular story tells of a little girl and a single mom who enter a toy store to buy a doll. As the little girl moves down the aisle, she asks her mother what each of the dolls can do. Some of the more expensive dolls walk, others talk, some sing or eat.
Finally, the little girl picks up a doll the young mother can afford. But, when the little girl asks what the doll can do, the mother notices there is no description on the box. Then an idea comes to her. She whispers to her daughter, “Honey, this doll listens.”
Although the little girl knew nothing about the costs of the other dolls, she chose the one that listened. This quaint story speaks to the child who lives in each of us. Why? Because, when we can, we still choose people who listen.
An E.A.R. for Marriage
In the middle of every loving heart is a listening E.A.R.
Most of us have seen “lonely people” on talk shows, in the malls, and in the cubicles where we work. Out of sight and out of touch, these individuals long for someone who can hear their hearts. Like the girl in the doll aisle, they are waiting for a box that reads, “This one listens.” They want a marriage partner who is, to borrow the common expression, “all ears.” Every marriage can benefit from improved listening skills. The following acrostic can help us remember that in the middle of every loving heart is a listening ear.
E—Enter their worlds
In his book Caring Enough to Hear and Be Heard, David Augsburger explains that, for effective listening to take place, we need to learn how to enter another person’s world. Entering our partner’s world will remove some of the communication barriers and help create an atmosphere where love can breathe. Sometimes entering our spouse’s world means building bridges by attending an event with them, reading a book together, or asking open-ended questions. When our spouse knows that her world is becoming more important to us, she feels our love more deeply. When we work through conflict this is especially important. Understanding our partner’s perspective can make it easier to find bridges we can cross together on the journey toward reconciliation.
A—Attend to the meaning behind their words
“You didn’t listen to a thing I said!”
How many times do words like these crush a conversation? It’s like we’re giving an important recital of our thoughts and no one is in attendance. It’s important to attend our partner’s conversations. It’s important to be there. When we aren’t attending to the meaning behind our spouse’s words, the conversation can seem like a kind of verbal air hockey—our words fly back and forth but seldom touch even the surface of our thoughts and feelings.
Solomon demonstrates this wisdom when he attends to the meaning behind his young bride’s words: “Tell me, you whom I love, where you graze your flock and where you rest your sheep at midday. Why should I be like a veiled woman beside the flocks of your friends?” (Song of Songs 1:7). She seems to reprimand Solomon for making her chase after him like an im- moral (“veiled”) woman, because he failed to let her know where he was at “midday.” The chorus, the “friends,” answer her ques- tion “where?” by providing directions—“by the tents of the shep- herds.” Their response might represent the typical husband who responds to words instead of meanings. Earlier, she advises, “Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun . . . my own vineyard [her body] I have neglected” (Song of Songs 1:6). Solomon remembers her words. His wisdom recog- nizes that a woman’s feelings about herself sometimes fashion her sentences. To love her, he compliments her beauty (v. 9) and makes a commitment to take time out of his schedule to make her “earrings of gold, studded with silver” (v. 11). He responds to her reprimand, not by defending himself or simply answering her question, but by attending to the meaning behind her words.
My wife, Linda, and I (Marty) have learned that our meanings are different. When I say, “I’m okay,” I mean it’s a good day. When she says, “I’m okay,” it means she wants to talk about something that’s troubling her. “Okay” can mean different things. It’s important to discover the meanings behind our spouse’s words.
R—Respond according to their needs
A youth director once told his youth group about the first time he kissed his fiancée. They were sitting beside a quiet stream when he asked, “Honey, can I kiss you?” She was silent. Although he considered the possibility that she didn’t want to be kissed, he chose to believe she didn’t hear him and asked again, “Can I kiss you?” She didn’t respond. Frustrated and wondering if he had already ruined his opportunity, he persisted, increasing his volume, “Honey, can I kiss you?”
She was silent.
“Are you deaf?” he pleaded.
“Are you paralyzed?” she laughed.
The point is she wanted him to respond, appropriately, to the situation.
After we’ve entered our spouse’s world and paid attention to the meaning behind his or her words, we can respond in a way that communicates, “I love you.”
To encourage healthy conversation in the church, Paul wrote that we should build others up “according to their needs” (Ephesians 4:29). Entering each other’s worlds helps us discover the other’s “needs.” Although Paul is specifically focusing on relationships within the body of Christ, his principle is especially relevant to marriage. In a romantic sense, when we fail to travel beyond our own worlds, we fail to understand and meet our spouse’s needs, and we trade away the stars.
This is the model Jesus used when he entered our world, attended to the meaning behind our words, and responded in a breathtaking way to our needs. When we become all EARs, we can effectively love in a way our partner can hear. Every marriage can become more meaningful when we learn to listen our way to love.

About the Authors:
Rich Rollins, D.Min.
Co-author of Redeeming Relationships and Spiritual Fitness, served as Executive Pastor at Valley Bible Church for over two decades, has appeared on Family Life Today with Dennis Rainey and served as a healthcare professional, college Vice-President and church consultant. For more than forty years, Rich’s work on relational conflict and spiritual growth has made him a sought-after counselor and conference speaker. Rich has also served as director and announcer for Truth for Today, a radio program featuring Valley Bible Church. He has written articles for Focus on the Family’s online magazine. Dr. Rollins has also been the key note speaker at over twenty Family and Marriage conferences.
Rich and his wife, LouAnna, live in Southern California. They have been married for over fifty-four years. They have two daughters and sons-in-law, three grand-children, and two foster daughters.
Marty Trammell, Ph.D.
Marty Trammell, Ph.D., is the author of Communication Matters and co-author of Redeeming Relationships and Spiritual Fitness. He serves as Worship and Family Pastor at Valley Baptist and as a professor of Communication at Corban University where students call him “Dr. Love.” With his wife and best friend, Linda, Marty has ministered for over 30 years to hundreds of couples in conferences, retreats and pre-marital counseling sessions. He has written for Zondervan, Tyndale, Moody and others and writes regularly for redeemingrelationships.com and startmarriageright.com. Marty and Linda have three sons and two daughters-in-law who encourage their pursuit of the Father and help them enjoy sports, camping and family road trips.

The Paradox of Perfection: How Embracing Our Imperfection Perfects Us

The Paradox of Perfection: How Embracing Our Imperfection Perfects Us is a new Christian Lifestyle book. It was released in June 2019, published by Crosslink Publishing.
“The Paradox of Perfection, by Reber and Moody, is an important book. As a pastor of a local church, I have seen firsthand what it does to people’s souls when they try to attain the unattainable ideal of perfection. People in pursuit of this goal either end up becoming Pharisees or failures. The good news is that our failures can lead us to grace and the love of Christ. The authors do a great job of pointing us in this life-giving direction.” Scott McKinney, Pastor at CenterPoint Church
“This book is a vital antidote to the poison that infiltrates many religious people―perfectionism. I hadn’t even realized I’d ingested this poison until I read this wonderful book! It draws you in immediately with its charming yet profound insights. Reber and Moody have clearly penned a gem.” —Brent Slife, Clinical Psychologist and Professor Emeritus

Synopsis:
Americans are wealthier, smarter, and more beautiful than ever before, but we are also more depressed, anxious, and lonely. How can this be? The answer for many of us is perfectionism. Perfectionists pursue flawlessness and often reach great heights as a result, but we ultimately fall frustratingly short of our ideal. Christian perfectionists turn frustration into despair, because Christ commands us to “be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect.” This seemingly impossible demand promotes feelings of guilt, unworthiness, and discouragement. Why would God put us in such a hopeless position?
The short answer is, He didn’t. In The Paradox of Perfection you will discover that the perfection Christ commands of us is actually possible here and now in this life, but to achieve it we must learn a new, properly Christian language of perfection. Relational experts, Dr. Jeffrey Reber and Steven Moody, will teach you this language and help you learn that the perfection Christ commands of you is not individual flawlessness, but a form of relationship with Him that depends precisely upon your weaknesses and imperfections, which enable Christ’s perfect love within you, your marriage, your family, and your church.

Excerpt from The Paradox of Perfection:
Toward a More Perfect Marital Union
You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly. —Sam Keen
Kathy’s Story
One evening when I returned home from shopping, my husband, Larry, met me at the door, grinning. What’s he up to? I wondered. He led me into the kitchen and announced, “I did the dishes for you!” As I hugged him and exclaimed, “Thank you!” I looked over his shoulder and noticed crumbs and drops of liquid on the counter. But you haven’t wiped the counter, I thought. You haven’t finished the dishes! Before I could chastise him, I remembered how my struggles with perfection- ism and impatience robbed me of enjoying and appreciating my wonderful husband. I thanked him again, determined not to allow his “mistakes” to bother me. The next evening Larry did the dishes again. I realized he wouldn’t have washed them a second time if I’d criticized him the day before. I witnessed again the power of affirming his attempts—even if they didn’t meet my expectations.
Someone once said that a perfectionist is a person who takes great pains and passes them on to others. I would have given my husband a great pain that evening if I’d discounted his effort. Yet that’s exactly what perfectionism does: It brings pain and destruction to our lives and marriages. Throughout the first seven years of our marriage, I struggled with perfectionist tendencies. Nothing Larry did was good enough. He wasn’t a good enough provider—even though he worked two jobs to support our family while I stayed home with the kids. He didn’t talk enough to me; he didn’t help properly with the housework; he wasn’t as concerned about my desires and expectations as I was. The list went on and on. My standards were set so high that Larry couldn’t win—ever. Since Larry didn’t meet all my needs, I believed I couldn’t give him credit when he showed me love. Instead I focused on his inadequacies. No matter how Larry tried to please me, I found fault and pointed out his shortcomings to “motivate” him. I “punished” him with my displeasure by withholding sex, affection, joy”1 (Miller, 2008).
This excerpt from Kathy’s story poignantly demonstrates what happens in a marriage when the language of perfectionism is the only language spouses know. As you can see in the first paragraph, even though Kathy learned some coping strategies, her perfectionism remained front and center in her mind and heart. She still noticed the crumbs and drops of liquid on the counter, and she continued to evaluate those things as flaws in her husband that demonstrated his inadequacy in completing the task. She coped with this by determining within herself not to be bothered by these mistakes, and she made sure to catch herself before chastising him. However, at this point in her story, she remains a perfectionist, albeit a less outspoken one.
Fortunately, Kathy’s story does not end there. After seven years of living perfectionistically, falling out of love with her husband because he failed to meet her high expectations, and then trying to cope with all of that by holding her tongue, Kathy was exposed to an alternative language of perfection, a properly Christian language of perfection. Kathy writes, “One day, during my devotions, God opened my eyes to what I was doing.” Kathy, who, like all of us, was incapable of finding a way out of the vise grip of perfectionism by her own efforts, was shown the more perfect way. And what is the more perfect way that she was shown? Kathy answers that question through an experience. She reports that one day while cleaning the house:
I sensed God say, “Tell Larry you love him.” I was shocked. No! I thought. I don’t love Larry. My unmet expectations had squelched my love—because love and a perfectionist attitude can’t really coexist. Besides, I thought, I haven’t said those words to him in more than two years. If I say them now, he might think I approve of his negligence toward me and the kids. In my perfectionistic thinking, since I didn’t feel love for Larry all the time, I couldn’t say I loved him. Finally, I felt God whisper, “Think it the next time you see Larry.” That’s strange, I thought. But if he doesn’t hear me, then he can’t use it against me. All right, Lord, I’ll do it, even if it isn’t true.
That evening when Larry returned, I stared at him, gulped, and thought, I love you…but I don’t really. Even though I obeyed God begrudgingly, an amazing thing happened. Over the following months, as I continued to think the words I love you whenever I looked at Larry, I began to feel love for him. I also recognized that I’d been holding Larry responsible for my happiness. As I received grace for myself and then offered it to Larry, my “all or nothing” thinking changed. I accepted the truth that Larry couldn’t meet all my needs—only God could. In time, Larry noticed that I wasn’t as angry and demanding. And our marriage became more comfort- able and enjoyable for both of us.
God exposed Kathy to the language of His perfect love. At first, she resisted this alternative and only practiced it begrudgingly. The language was so foreign, so unfamiliar. It just did not ring true. However, as she practiced speaking it, even if only in her mind, her heart changed. She allowed God’s love in, and through the grace of His love, her love for her husband grew and their marriage improved. It was not easy. It did not happen over- night. Surely, she still falls back into her primary language of perfectionism all the time. But now she knows there is another way to be perfect, another language she can speak, and she knows it is the Lord’s way because it came directly from Him.

About the Authors:
Jeff Reber and Steve Moody are educators and therapists who specialize in relational approaches to issues at the intersection of faith and psychology. They have given presentations on perfectionism to audiences across the continent and have published scholarly articles, book chapters, and books on this and other important societal epidemics. Their latest book The Paradox of Perfection is available for pre-sale on Amazon. Readers can connect with the authors on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. To learn more, go to https://paradoxofperfectionbook.com